Graphic Novels

I first stumbled across Marcia Williams about 8 years ago when I was asked to teach myths and legends to my year 3 class (7-8 year olds). I had such a range of abilities in my class that I was at a loss for ways to help them all access this unit of work at a level appropriate for them. Then someone pointed me in the direction of the Greek Myths retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams.



This was just what I needed and now her collection of books retelling many great and classic stories in a child (and adult!) friendly way are a firm favourite in my classroom. I'm here today to tell you why and how I love using comic strips and graphic novels with my little learners.


 1. My favourite first activity to carry out with my class is to cover the captions and read the text using the pictures only. It is great to have pairs or small groups working on this activity and then share versions, comparing and contrasting – did we all tell the same story? Why did we have different versions? How did you interpret this picture? There is so much inference to be taught and using pictures to teach this is always a great way to make this tricky skill a little easier. We get to practise some super speaking and listening skills at the same time!






2.  They are such a brilliant first introduction to some tricker and more classic texts for children! Wherever possible, I like to pre-teach texts with those who are struggling a bit more in my class. Using graphic novels and highly illustrated texts like these means I can familiarise my less confident learners with the text before introducing it to the rest of the class.    These are more accessible versions of the story and build confidence so that when we come to whole class teaching, often with a different version of the story, the ones who usually struggle can be the text experts for a while! 



3. While we're thinking about differentiation for less able readers, these texts can also be used to challenge your more able. This style of writing means every word has to be chosen carefully and you will often find more adventurous word choices in the text. If you're delving into author choice of language, graphic novels can be a good starting point. They are also perfect for those with English as an additional language because of the images in place to support language development.



4. Motivation! If you have a class of reluctant readers then graphic novels and comic strips are highly visual, often funny and therefore very engaging for boys and girls alike. These could be that way you have been looking for to hook those few reluctant readers you have into reading and you never know - they may want to go on to read even more Shakespeare or Dickens in the future!


5. Alongside all the great reading skills you can teach you class with these books - inference, comparing and contrasting different versions of a story, author choice, language and layout and opinion to name a few, you can also have children produce some brilliant writing! I have had children work collaboratively to plan and create their own versions of stories we have read in class in the style of Marcia Williams. Stripping a story down and choosing words very carefully can be a great challenge for some children who usually write pages - this style of writing is definitely more about quality over quantity and this is something some of my learners definitely still need to work on!

If you aren't familiar with these books by Marcia Williams, I would definitely encourage you to check them out.

Do you have a favourite comic or graphic novel you use in class? What success have you had using them? I'd love to hear from you so do leave a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by today!


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